Forget “Got milk?” or “Where’s the beef?” While those two ad campaigns hit home in our ranching community, they’re not nearly as long-lasting as the painted sign promotion for venerable F.M. Light & Sons. Drive toward Steamboat from any direction and you’ll see the telltale, yellow and black signs for the western retailer, advertising everything from cowboy hats to jeans. “They’re a huge part of our history,” says co-owner Chris Dillenbeck, crediting the idea to Clarence Light, son of store founder Frank Light.
Did You Know? There are 37 F.M. Light & Sons signs between Kremmling and Steamboat Springs.
In 1928, Clarence erected 260 signs within a 150-mile radius, a number that grew to 300 before Lady Bird Johnson’s 1965 Highway Beautification Act brought it back to 150. Today there are still 100, all historic and registered with the state. While maintaining them all is hard (“Livestock rub up against them, and some are riddled with bullet holes from the olden days,” Chris says), it’s worth it for word of mouth alone.